Sam Horn - Intrigue

Friday, December 15, 2006

Announcing the 2006 POP! Hall of Fame

What do Ted Leonsis, Crackberry, and Little MissMatched all have in common?

They're all been inducted into the 2006 POP! Hall of Fame - which honors individuals and entities that have captured the public's interest because of their originality. Previous winners have included Freakonomics, Java Jacket, Daddle, and Eats, Shoots, and Leaves.

I believe the best way to corner a niche is to create a niche. And the best way to create a niche is to coin a one-of-a-kind approach. These people and products are examples of how anyone and anything can break out if you pleasantly surprise people with something they haven't seen and heard before.

1. Treadmill Dance. The sublime marriage of this attention-grabbing peformance by OK GO with the around-the-world-in-seconds distribution of You Tube has been viewed by more than 100 million people. It started simply. The band realized they needed to differentiate themselves from the 50 other acts playing at a music festival. They came up with a dance routine which proved to be so popular, they brainstormed how to improve upon it. After 56 takes and much bumping and bruising, the "Treadmill Dance" was born, creating a word-of-mouse phenomenon which has catapulted the band from semi-obscurity to the international spotlight.

2. Ted's Takes. When Ted Leonsis (Vice Chair of AOL and majority owner of the Washington Capitals Hockey Team) Googled himself in 2005, he was displeased to discover pages of news stories about him, some unflattering. Understanding the importance of pro-actively controlling his public image rather than passively leaving it to chance, he started blogging daily, posting snippets of his celebrity-filled life and strategically linking to other high-profile entrepreneurs such as Mark Cuban. The result? He now receives up to 15,000 visits a day and his "take" on life shows up first when he's Googled. As a bonus, he says, "I have moral authority and credibility with employees and people in the industry that I'm not just talking about Web 2.0, I'm living it."

3. Little MissMatched. The slogan of this multimillion dollar company is "Nothing matches but anything goes." And what goes with co-founders Jason Dorf, Arielle Eckstut, and Jonah Taw is their vision to capitalize on the lost sock phenomenon instead of complain about it. They sell packets of three or seven mismatched socks, gloves and mittens in a variety of patterns and colors. Their novel retailing puts the fun in funky.

4. POPera. When is opera cool? When you combine it with popular tunes - ala Josh Groban and II Divo - to make classical music rock. This is an example of an Alphabetized word, a simple POP! technique which has the power to create a trademark-able word in seconds, ala Tongue Fu!® As soon as you create a never-before-seen word, you don't just have a clever title, tagline or brand, you have the beginnings of a business empire.

5. "You're on my fantasy team." Why did Colts quarterback Peyton Manning earn $11.5 million in endorsement income this year and have a "Q" ranking higher than popular NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.? Partially because of his ad-libs for Master Card in which the commercial director simply asked him to repeat what he frequently hears from fans. Hence the catchphrase "I'm never going to wash my hand."

What do you hear from your customers? Is that featured on your website or in your marketing material? One of the quickest ways to make sure your target audience relates to what you have to say and sell is to feature the language they're already using when describing your products and services.

6. Heinz. This ketchup company, founded in 1876, models their motto which is "To do a common thing uncommonly well." How many times have you pounded a ketchup bottle against your palm trying to get that thick tomato paste out? In what has to be the "Duh!" moment of the decade, someone at Heinz had the bright idea to redesign the bottle and turn it upside down so it sits on its cap. Voila. Problem solved.

Is the answer to your packaging problem staring you in the face? Could you turn an assumption or tradition about your product upside down to produce an elegant and simple solution? Could you zig where your competitors are zagging and do the opposite instead of the obvious?

7. Metronatural®. Coining an appealing and memorable slogan for a city or state is crucial as it can make or break its vital convention and visitor business. This trademarked Half & Half Word captures and communicates the dual draw of Seattle – it’s a thriving metropolis surrounded by majestic natural beauty. Thanks to POP! fan David Zinger for alerting me to another catchy city slogan "Keep it Querque" for . . . what else but Albuquerque?

8. Spot the Tot. 500 children a year are run over in their own driveway by people who inadvertantly back up over them. A movement launched to prevent these tragic deaths is called "Spot the Tot" -- a classic example of how "Cliff-Noting" your campaign into a clear, concise message increases the likelihood people will remember and follow its important advice. Jonathan Winters said, "I have a photographic memory, I just haven't developed it yet." Since many people are forgetful, it's our responsibility to create a "rhyme is sublime" tagline for our cause that gives people's mind a hook on which to hang a memory.

9. Crackberry. This clever "Alphabetized Word" alludes to the addictive qualities of Blackberry (just ask the hundreds of thousands suffering from "Blackberry Thumb"). You don't have to be a creative genius to come up with a new word. Write down 10 words that describe your pet project. Now, run them through the ABC's, changing the sound of the first syllable to match the corresponding letter. Want an example (and a close runner-up in this category?) What do you call a cubicle with a view . . .that's right, viewbicle.

10. No Child Left Inside. Just as a jazz pianist riffs off common chords to create new music, POP! artists riff off common slogans to create new variations. Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, (a clever play on the words Attention-Deficit Disorder) pioneered a back-to-nature movement to reconnect children with the outdoors and developed the perfect name that "plays off" the No Child Left Behind legislation. George Washington Carver said, "When you can say a common thing in an uncommon way, you will command the attention of the world." There is an art and craft to making a complicated concept compelling in 4 words -- and this program does just that.

Quality is important, but it is not enough. If you care about your ideas and offerings, you must create Purposeful, Original, Pithy marketing messages that help them stand out from the crowd instead of get lost in the crowd.

Want to discover how to get your cause, campaign, or company noticed? Take advantage of our POP! Holiday package. You receive:

POP 3 CD Series = $99 value. Turn your commute or workout into a fun and fascinating learning lab by listening to a variety of ways to develop one-of-a-kind approaches and identities that catapult your idea or organization into the limelight.

POP Hardback Book (Perigee) = $23 value Find out why Edelman Sr. VP Marilynn Mobley says, “If you liked Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink, you’ll love Sam Horn’s POP!”

Write Here, Write Now Perpetual Calendar = $20 value. A quote a day will catapult your ability to generate innovative ideas and approaches. 365 inspiring quotes including such favorites as "A hunch is creativity trying to tell you something." - Frank Capra

All for $99. Save $43 –in essence, you’re getting the calendar and book free. Order by Dec. 19 to receive your Holiday POP! Package by Dec. 25. This is a special blog offer - you won't find it on our website - so please call our CA office toll-free at 800 SAM-3455 to place your order.

Want to share the 2006 POP! Hall of Fame on your blog, website, or newsletter? Want to schedule an interview with Sam? Contact Cheri Grimm in Sam's California office at 800 SAM-3455 or email